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Accumulation, Organization, Valuation

Camille Henrot, Grosse Fatigue
Camille Henrot, Grosse Fatigue

I finished my spring grading in the wee hours last Friday morning, so I celebrated by dedicating the whole day — after waking from my first serious sleep in months — to various aesthetic pursuits. I started at the New Museum, which currently features four floors of shows that are right up my alley. Jeanine Oleson, Roberto Cuoghi, and Ragnar Kjartansson are all working with sound (as is Hannah Sawtell, in her lobby exhibition — which I somehow missed). Cuoghi’s primitive soundscape, played at high volume, in an immersive, darkened room, evokes ceremony and ritual; it was certainly entertaining — but when, on my way out, I read the supremely overwrought wall text, I was turned off by the pretension.

Kjartansson
Kjartansson

I found Kjartansson’s Take Me Here by the Dishwasher to be particularly captivating. The artist has hired ten musicians to be “in residence” at the museum, where they hang out on second-hand couches, lounge on mattresses, curl up in the corners, walk around in their underwear, drink beer — and, all the while, play a ten-part polyphony composed by Sigur Rós’s Kjartan Sveinsson. There’s an interesting autobiographical story behind the film clips projected on the east wall, but I don’t feel like getting into it. What was more interesting to me is the dynamic sonic space and the domestic “ambience” for performance. Visitors can walk amongst the moving musical parts — these ratty Brooklyn-model troubadours — so the acoustic and visual experience changes depending on where you’re standing. It reminded me a lot of Janet Cardiff’s 40-Part Motet, except Kjartansson’s piece is way more Fleet Foxes then Renaissance. This idea of “spatialized sound” was also central to his The Visitors, which I saw — and absolutely loved (as did nearly everybody in the universe, it seemed) — at Gagosian last winter. [Update: see also Roberta Smith’s similar comments in the 5/23 Times.]

And on the 2nd floor, Camille Henrot examines the aesthetics of classification, epistemology, and ontology. As should be obvious, she’s my kind of girl. Hers was the most exciting show I’d seen in a long while. I’d read about her Grosse Fatigue, the video that was a centerpiece of the exhibition, last year in Artforum, and I was thrilled to finally be able to see it in-person. As I tweeted on my way out of the museum, “we’re gonna be all over Henrot in my Archives class this coming fall;” her work is a perfect case study for so many of the themes that are central to the class.

Camille Henrot “Grosse Fatigue” from kamel mennour on Vimeo.

In “Is it possible to be a revolutionary and like flowers?”, the museum explains, she “translates books from her library into ikebana arrangements, connecting the languages of literature, anthropology, and philosophy with the equally complex language of flowers.” In another piece, “Jewels from the Personal Collection of Princess Salimah Aga Khan,” Henrot displays pressed flowers atop the pages of a Christie’s catalog featuring, well, the jewels of Princess Salimah Aga Khan. As Henrot explains on her website, “Like herbarium sheets, the 135 plates featured in Camille Henrot’s piece Jewels from the Personal Collection of Princess Salimah Aga Khan present various botanical specimens — plants and flowers — gathered by the artist from the private flower-beds decorating building entrances on the Upper East Side, New York City’s wealthiest neighbourhood.” Here she’s playing with markers of wealth, beauty, femininity — and differential access to those symbols.

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Henrot’s “Is It Possible to be a Revolutionary and Like Flowers”?

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Henrot’s Jewels

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From Henrot's site
Collecting specimens. Photo from Henrot’s website

In both of these pieces, flowers — which are themselves subjected to classification and tagged with heavy Latin names — are used to function as a more evocative, aesthetic, symbolic language. As the museum writes, “Through translation as well as archival research and the creation of hybrid objects — apparent throughout the artist’s videos, sculptures, and works on paper — Henrot demonstrates how the classification of artifacts and the production of images structure the way we understand the world.” Her work is beautiful and deliciously cerebral — and I’m so glad to know more about it.

I then moved on to Chelsea, where I started with Robert Heinecken’s and Heimo Zobernig’s shows at Petzel. Eh. Then I stopped by David Zwirner for Oscar Murillo’s A Mercantile Novel, for which the artist has partnered with Colombian candy company Colombina — where generations of Murillo’s family have worked — to recreate a chocolate factory in the gallery. The company’s signature Chocmelos are free for the taking.

Murillo's Mercantile Novel
Murillo’s Mercantile Novel

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As Murillo explained to the Times in March,

[He] hope[d] to import 13 factory workers from Colombina…. The visitors would stay in two rented houses in Queens and commute by subway to the gallery to make chocolate, producing it on the same kind of assembly-line machine used back home. (Mr. Zwirner has agreed to buy the gleaming stainless-steel contraption from a German manufacturer.) But the workers need visas. ‘This goes beyond the art world,” Mr. Murillo said. “If they don’t get visas, then it changes.”

And according to the press release, “by turning the gallery into a fully operational production site, he opens up for considerations not merely about trade and globalization, but also about individual relationships and communities, roots and immigration. As such, the Colombina factory becomes a catalyst for a consideration of socio-economic conditions in the United States, Colombia, and beyond, while also inviting visitors to reflect on the nature of societies, both personal and universal.” I wonder how much reflection was going on. When I was there, the gallery was packed with people stuffing their faces and pockets with rather flavorless chocolate. I overhead a tour guide explain to his charges: “I’m sure the workers are thrilled to be here in New York!” The whole thing felt fetishistic and gimmicky to me — particularly because we couldn’t see into the production area, with all the pallets in the way. Instead, we watched the production line on videos in the gallery’s foyer — at a remove (even if only 50 feet or so) from the site of labor. The chocolate smell was really the only sign of immediacy; aside from that, the production might as well have taken place back in Colombia.

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Peeking through the pallets to see the production line

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I then stopped by Andrew Edlin for Tom Duncan’s Portrait of Tom with a Migraine Headache, which features as assemblage of (auto)biographical sculptures. They’re like psychoanalytic graphic novels in 3D.

Tom Duncan
Tom Duncan

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Adrian Piper
Adrian Piper

After that, I was off to Elizabeth Dee for Adrian Piper’s Probable Trust Registry. Just as Duncan’s sculpture invited us to peek inside his own brain, Piper invites us to examine our own conscience. We find three corporate reception environments, each representing a pledge: I will always be too expensive to buy; I will always mean what I say; and I will always do what I say I am going to do. If visitors can pledge to live by these rules, they sign a contract — one copy of which is to be kept, sealed for 100 years, in the Adrian Piper Research Archive in Berlin, and another copy of which goes to the signatories. At the close of the exhibition, all those who’ve signed pledges will receive copies of all the other signed contracts for that particular pledge. The only rule that I was certain I could live by was the first: I will always be too expensive to buy.

Buggenhout
Buggenhout

Then for a complete change of pace — from introspection to projection — I visited Peter Buggenhout’s Caterpillar Logic II at Gladstone Gallery. As the press release explains, Buggenhout “take[s] as his medium what he describes as abject matter — everyday materials that have been disassociated from their original uses and purposes,” and creates “looming structures, whose formal complexity and clear, predetermined internal logic, [are] revealed only upon closer inspection” (man, somebody forgot to proofread this press release!). The two pieces on display here — both called The Blind Leading the Blind, as is all of his work (in homage to Pieter Bruegel the Elder) — consist of old building and industrial materials and lots and lots of dust. The whole gallery had a very earthy, perfume-y, just-after-the-rain scent — which allowed me to project myself, or myself reimagined as a caterpillar, into these abject spaces, and imagine them as caterpillar architecture.

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At Tanya Bonakdar, Meschac Gaba created another “projective” architecture: a global exchange market. He created market stalls featuring various forms of currency, symbolic objects, and raw materials — each representing its own system of valuation. I couldn’t help but wonder how we translate between these systems: how many gold nuggets for a cell phone, for instance? And how many devaluated African banknotes for a bag of cotton balls?

Meschac Gaba
Meschac Gaba

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Global trade and abstraction of value were clearly central themes here. It seemed only fitting then, to enter Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery and find myself engulfed in vectors of string — abstract representations of flow. Robert Currie’s Viewpointsaccording to the gallery, plays on chaos theory and complexity theory. What a wonderful coincidence that, when I was there, someone — maybe Currie himself — was “tuning the strings.” Installing this work was obviously highly labor intensive; what’s more, each of those acrylic strings, the gallery explains, is hand-painted. We thus see the persistent presence of the human hand, of manual labor, in these abstract “scapes” — both here, in Currie’s geometries of string, and in Gaba’s global exchange. Our view of those scapes and vectors also depends upon our vantage point — whether in the developing or post-industrial world, or, in Currie’s case, depending upon where we stand in relation to the installation: the vectors morph into different geometric forms as one walks past or around each piece.

Robert Currie
Robert Currie

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And in keeping with the “capital” theme, I then saw Mika Rottenberg’s Bowls Balls Souls Holes at Andrea Rosen. Rottenberg, according to the gallery, has long investigated “the production of objects, units and value” — themes exploresd through Henrot’s, Murillo’s, and Gaba’s work, too. Here, she traces vectors — aligning her with Currie — between forces as seemingly disparate as “quantum entanglement, magnetic fields, global warming, and the production of luck.” Her work, for me, embodies the Butterfly effect: how might a drop of water hissing in a frying pan later impact a roll of the dice in a casino, or the selection of a numbered ball in a bingo hall, which in turn has the potential to radically transform an individual’s wealth — which in turn ripples outward to have potential implications on a global or intergalactic scale.

Mike Rottenberg
Mike Rottenberg, Tss Tss Tss – A/C condensation sizzling in a frying pan
Revolving wall
Revolving wall
Boiling beakers
Boiling beakers
Video still
Video still

And speaking of the ascription of value — and mythical significance — to objects: consider Tunga’s From ‘La Voie Humide’, at Luhring Augustine. According to the gallery, the artist is “following in the tradition of Joseph Beuys’s ceremonial environments” — much like a bingo hall? — and relies “on a repeated use of symbolic materials such as crystals, sponges, rubber, wood, bronze, glass vessels, and ceramics.” He makes beautiful, anthropomorphic/talismanic, organic sculptures.

Tunga
Tunga

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Similarly talismanic are Tara Donovan’s sculptures — one, an eight-part “stalagmite forest” (my term) composed of index cards; the other, a huge translucent, mutant koosh ball made of thousands of acrylic rods. “As in all of her work, Donovan spends months or even years searching for a method of assembly that allows the simple and immutable characteristics of the chosen material to generate complex, emergent phenomena which keep the viewer cycling between perception of the parts and the whole[, and] between the forms themselves and the light that surrounds and divides them.” Playing with accumulation and perspective, as was Currie with his strings.

Tara Donovan
Tara Donovan

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And speaking of accumulation! Check out Fred Tomaselli’s Current Events at James Cohan. His paintings frequently depict a flood of consumer goods or media products, and his New York Times collages serve to differentiate the endlessly repeating iconography — the masthead, the lead photo, etc. — of the paper’s front page.

Fred Tomaselli: A vortex of consumer goods
Fred Tomaselli: A vortex of consumer goods
A fish inhaling plastic objects
A fish inhaling plastic objects

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Jorinde Voigt also paints in response to existing texts — but her chosen textual references are more philosophical and theoretical. Her Codification of Intimacy represents her attempt to visualize — in forms resembling musical scores or scientific diagrams — the essential themes in Niklas Luhmann’s Love as Passion: The Codification of Intimacy.

Jorinde Voigt
Jorinde Voigt

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(Almost) finally, to round out the day, I stopped by Rebecca Horn’s The Vertebrae Oracle at Sean Kelly. I hadn’t been to Kelly’s space since he moved from 29th Street; this new space is massive. The show consisted of kinetic sculptures, melding the mechanical and the sensual; and delicate paintings, whose marks look as if they could’ve been made by the sculptures’ moving appendages.

Rebecca Horn
Rebecca Horn

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A constellation of moving mirrors cast spots of light that glide across the walls and floor
A constellation of moving mirrors cast spots of light that glide across the walls and floor

And speaking of object-based performances: I then joined Penny and a friend at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts for (O) and ((), Sometimes Played in Unison —  a program consisting of John Cage’s “But What About the Noise of Crumpling Paper” and an original composition that asked the question: what sound does a circle make?

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One musician’s “mise en place” for Cage’s “crumpled paper” piece

Other stuff that I’m not going to talk about because, let’s face it — this has gotten ridiculous: assume vivid astro focus’s kaleidoscopic paintings — appropriately titled adderall valium ativan focalin (cantilevering me) at Suzanne Geiss; Richard Wentworth’s motes to self — photos that capture evidence of human life in urban landscapes — at Peter Freeman; Lee Bul’s futuristic sculptures and installation at Lehman Maupin downtown; Sam Moyer’s More Weight — stone slab installations and “wall works” — at Rachel Uffner; and Anicka Yi’s multimedia work — a washing machine scent installation! CDs dripping with honey! what?! — at 47 Canal.

assume vivid astro focus
assume vivid astro focus
Richard Wentworth
Richard Wentworth
Lee Bul
Lee Bul

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There I am!
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Sam Moyer

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I like the accidental juxtaposition with the “naturally marbled” exterior wall
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Anicka Yi

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Finally, on Tuesday night, Ran and I went to hear / see Elmgreen & Dragset at The New School.

And that is all. Holy Mary, Mother of God. I’m exhausted.

Elmgreen + Dragset
Elmgreen + Dragset
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Polysyndeton: When Art Hurts

Sigmar Polke @ MoMA
Sigmar Polke @ MoMA

I went to a couple exhibitions every weekend over the past several weeks — which adds up to a crapload of art over the past month. I actually feel a little guilty — as in, how on earth did I find time to do all this?!? So, as penance, I’ll reflect on what I’ve done:

I saw the Sigmar Polke, John Cage 4’33”, and Frank Lloyd Wright shows at MoMA. I think Holland Cotter’s April 17 review of the Polke show was some of the most refreshing and poetic and grounded art criticism I’ve read in a long while, and I found that his words rang true for me when I was standing in the galleries:

[Polke’s] work can be daintily detailed and virtuosic, but it can also look polish-aversive and incomplete. Sometimes he seems to start a painting or a drawing, then stop, as if to say: You get the idea….

Art history wants wrap-ups, final accounts. The Polke retrospective is such an account, written with commas, colons, semicolons, dashes, ellipses, parentheses, but no periods, no full stops.

I did sense, as I was walking through gallery after gallery, that this was polysyndeton (look it up!) spatialized. And this, then this, plus this — and then for something totally new, thisI have to admit that very few individual pieces grabbed me. It was more the aggregate that impressed: the idea that all this — all the multiformity and kaleidoscopic jumble — sprang from one man’s brain. That’s impressive. Speaking of impressive: check out the names on this program for the August 29, 1952 performance of Cage’s 4’33” (and other works): Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman, Pierre Boulez, Henry Cowell!

Then I stupidly did a couple of the art fairs. I always hate them — undoubtedly in part because I always feel like the scruffiest, dorkiest, poorest kid in the (cavernous) room — but I went to Frieze and NADA. At Frieze, I liked Rita Sobral Campos’s If-Carl-Andre-Were-A-Constructivist stuff; Shannon Ebner’s language-meets-photography work (I’ve always liked her); Nicolas Robbio’s materializing-the-network-diagram wall sculpture; Rirkirt Tiravanija’s tightly packed chalkboard paintings; Spencer Finch’s colorful grid paintings; Sarah Sze’s tabletop bonsai sculptures; Tim Rollins’ & KOS’s massive “On the Origin of the Species” rhizome painting; Johanna Calle’s microscript diagram-scores; and — probably my favorite of all — Ciprian Muresan’s “Agnes Martin,” both because it’s beautiful, and because, hey, it’s about Agnes Martin.

Rita Sobral Campos
Rita Sobral Campos
Shannon Ebner
Shannon Ebner
Nicolas Robbio
Nicolas Robbio
Rirkrit Tiravanija
Rirkrit Tiravanija
Sarah Sze
Sarah Sze
Tim Rollins, / KOS
Tim Rollins, / KOS
Johanna Calle
Johanna Calle
Ciprian Muresan
Ciprian Muresan
Muresan
Muresan

NADA’s highlights included Imi Knoebel’s little geometric plastic/acrylic paintings; Kristoffer Myskja’s beautiful little animatronic sculptures; Ana Bidart’s paintings and sculptures, which make the glitch analog (sorta in a Wade Guyton vein) and seem to materialize genetic mutation through 3D printing. I’m totally making this up, if you haven’t noticed.

Knoebel. This dude WOULD. NOT. MOVE.
Knoebel. This dude WOULD. NOT. MOVE.
Myskja
Myskja
Bidart
Bidart
Bidart
Bidart

Churner + Churner

I’ve come to realize that I like tricked-out booths, like Churner & Churner’s wood-paneled-booth-meets-basement-rec-room at NADA, which created a perfect ambiance for the Jaime Davidovich paintings they were showing.  And I like it when galleries write the artists’ names directly on the wall, rather than using wall labels; I appreciate seeing that imperfect script and realizing, hey — there are still people behind these big corporate aesthetic machines! 

I realize this post was more of a channel-surf than usual. That’s because none of these shows were meant for contemplation. It’s all about volume — and, and, and, and… While Polke employed polysyndeton to provocative grammatical and historiographic effect, the fairs’ agglomeration simply wears you down. It’s all but impossible to appreciate individual works (although I did, obviously, make note of a few stand-outs), because they all smear together. It’s like OKCupid for art. It’s all forest; no trees. And while the sheer scale of these operations is a statement in itself, regarding the political economy of art and the nature of artistic production, the bigness — and the mode of engagement it necessitates — strips away everything I love. Which is why I typically leave these sorts of events totally depressed — barely remembering anything I’ve seen, annoyed by how derivative so much of that work is (more crappy ceramics?!? more neon paintings?!?), and annoyed by how derivative so many people are.

Wow — I’m a total bummer. I think I’ll break here and designate this the Downer Post. In my next post, I’ll talk about all the other stuff I’ve seen in recent weeks — stuff that I can appreciate under different conditions — conditions that actually allow for observation from different angles and distances, that encourage staring, that give space and time for real engagement.

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Advisee Accolades II

Illustration by Sophia Foster-Dimino
Illustration by Sophia Foster-Dimino 

Every year I have the privilege of celebrating my advisees’ tremendous accomplishments. Last year I reported on several former thesis advisees’ academic, professional, and creative endeavors. This year, I’m happy to say that three of my former thesis advisees are moving on to top-notch doctoral programs:

Last year Rory Solomon, my six-time RA and TA, wrote a wonderful thesis on “the stack” — the network stack, the application stack, etc. — as a central metaphor in computing history; he’s presented that work widely at conferences, and published part of it in a great piece in Amodern. He won last year’s Academic Achievement Award in the School of Media Studies at The New School, and this year he’s been accepted, with full funding, into the doctoral program in Media, Culture and Communication at NYU. Yay, Rory!

Last year Yeong Ran Kim, my fantastic RA for my research in Korea, completed an extraordinarily thoughtful and poetic thesis on sound, ethnography, place, and performance. Ran had been collaborating with Patricia Clough, from the CUNY Grad Center, and a number of other graduate students to produce Ecstatic Corona, a multimedia performance exploring politics and memory in Corona, Queens — and this work functioned as a “case study” for Ran’s thesis. She just completed an MA in Performance Studies at NYU, and this fall she’s starting a fully-funded PhD in Theater Arts and Performance Studies at Brown. Yay, Ran!

And this spring Laura Scherling, a skilled graphic designer, completed a superb hybrid thesis — a beautifully designed booklet meant for public distribution, and an online archive — exploring the use of mapmaking in community urban visioning and rejuvenation activities in Detroit, where she did extensive fieldwork and was involved in numerous community organizations. She’s also employed maps in her own work as director of local activist group GREENSPACENYC. Laura’s thesis won this year’s Distinguished Thesis Award, and she’s has been accepted, with full funding, into the doctoral program in Art and Art Education at Columbia University. Yay, Laura!

And I met up this week with a thesis advisee from looong ago — Penny Duff. Penny wrote a wonderful thesis about the potential for sound arts to create community and cultivate sense of place, and she was selected to be our commencement speaker. I gave our program’s commencement address that year, and I had the honor of introducing Penny as she describes herself: a “southern lady, aspiring dandy, animal lover, and audio freak.” So true. Penny went on to do another masters in Arts Admin & Policy at SAIC and to organize awesome sound projects around Chicago. Now she’s the Chicago program director for Theaster Gates’s Rebuild Foundation, which means that she gets to work at/in/with the Dorchester Projects every day! I’m so impressed — and, I must say, a little bit jealous!

It’s been a privilege to work with — and learn from — all these amazing people. I’m proud to call all of them friends.

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Platform Shifts: My Spring 2014 Digital Archives Studio

platformshifts

This spring in my inaugural “Digital Archives + Institutional Memory” studio we kicked off the semester by considering how institutional and organizational memories are constructed, and what methods and resources we could use to piece together The New School’s own institutional history. Then we examined an assortment of The New School’s founding documents, along with several pieces from newly acquired archival collections that document Media Studies’ formative years in the late 60s and early 70s. And to contextualize those documents we spoke with two of Media Studies’ founding faculty: Kit Laybourne and Peter Haratonik.

Over the following weeks we worked closely with Wendy Scheir and Liza Harrell-Edge from The New School Archives, who proved to be incredibly generous and enthusiastic collaborators. We also visited and welcomed visitors from other institutions, who modeled both tried-and-true and highly innovative archival practices and tools. We went to the NYPL to talk about finding aids with archivist Thomas Lannon. We welcomed archivist Jenny Swadosh, who spoke with us about metadata; and Seth Kaufman and Julia Weist from Collective Access, who shared with us their inspiring work on the CA collection management platform. The following week, Ben Vershbow joined us from NYPL Labs; he spoke with us about the tools they developed to animate, and encourage public engagement with, the library’s archival collections. A few weeks later, we visited ArtStor — where we came to appreciate the physical, economic, legal, intellectual, and human infrastructure behind the digital archive.

We then took stock of all that we’d learned from these fabulous guests in considering what modest contribution we could make to The New School’s archives. Our challenge, as stated on my course syllabus, was to “reimagine the ‘interface’ to the archives by prototyping…platforms for highlighting and recontextualizing noteworthy archival material – particularly material regarding the history of media study and media-making at The New School.” Students identified individual topics of interest for their own archival investigations and experimentation, but we committed to merging those interests in the production of a single, unified web project.

Under the leadership of my fantastic TA, Angelica Vergel, we experimented with a bunch of platforms, practiced critiquing a bunch of other archival interfaces, then collectively decided that we’d use Scalar to create our own archival exhibition. We wanted to keep our potential users in mind as we worked on our exhibition, so we invited designer Jane Pirone to join us to discuss user experience testing. And we invited the multitalented Orit Halpern and Alex Kelly to serve as critics for a (pseudo-)mid-semester pecha kucha, where we shared our work in progress.

And then three weeks later we debuted Platform Shifts, our online Scalar exhibition. The title references themes that proved central to the students’ work — particularly technological, pedagogical, and institutional change — but it also alludes to an exhibition, titled “Radical Shifts,” that Parsons’ Kellen Archives hosted in 2011. “Platform Shifts” consists of three sections; as I wrote in the exhibition’s intro text:

In our first section, we map out The New School’s evolving institutional structure. This constant change reflects the institution’s drive to continually adapt in order to best support its mission. In the second section, three students explore the birth and growth of the Media Studies program, particularly how its course offerings and approaches to teaching and learning evolved in tandem with changes in the media landscape. Finally, in keeping with The New School’s commitment to creative critical practice, we propose our own experimental technological tools that might help us to engage the archive in new ways. Thus the platform in which this exhibition is presented proposes its own shifts — planting seeds for the development of new media, new archival interfaces, and new approaches to archival study, that will continue to make even The New School’s archives ever new.

That introductory text also provides more context for the “Platform Shifts” theme:

Since its inception in 1919 The New School has sought to shift the platforms and modify the protocols of higher education. Founded amid controversy over freedom of speech in the academy and in political discourse at large, The New School fashioned itself into a place where students and faculty could work together, inside the classroom and out, to address contemporary problems and cultivate a world committed to democratic ideals. With its informal administration; its rejection of entrance requirements, exams, degrees, and traditional academic departments; its commitment to adult learners; its championing of civic engagement; and its embrace of scholars ostracized by their own institutions, the early New School was designed as a new kind of intellectual and creative platform — one that we might today call, in the language of Silicon Valley, “disruptive.” In fact, Alvin Johnson, the university’s first president, argued that, rather than providing “acceptable conclusions” for students, The New School would offer “a series of opening vistas” through “instruction that is unsettling, rather than authoritarian and quieting.”*

This new pedagogical platform also embraced the arts as an integral component of social research. Media was taken seriously as a social force — and media making as a social practice. The New School has been a pioneer in both the study and making of media, offering among the first film studies classes in the 20s and integrating the country’s, if not the world’s, first media studies program in the 70s. The MA Program in Media Studies, born out of the Center for Understanding Media (founded in 1969), has always embraced contemporary theoretical frameworks and methodologies for studying media; and experimented with a variety of media technologies, from 16mm film to interactive technologies.

This progressive media history is documented, in part, in The New School’s archives, particularly through recently acquired collections. This project reflects the work of graduate students in the Masters Program in Media Studies to trace these institutional, technological, pedagogical, and cultural platform shifts, and to place them into context.

*quoted in Alvin Johnson, Deliver Us From Dogma, (New York: American Association for Adult Education, 1934): 39.

I must reiterate my gratitude to Wendy Scheir and Liza Harrell-Edge from the New School Archives, my TA Extraordinaire Angelica Vergel, and our many talented and gracious guests and hosts — all of whom made this such an enlightening and rewarding experience for my students and me. Thanks to all of you!

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Animated Spaces Article (on Exhibitions for Interaction and Architectural Design) Published in Senses + Society

Russian pavilion @ 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, via The Guardian
Russian pavilion @ 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, via The Guardian 

I wrote an article about the challenges of designing exhibitions for interaction design and architecture. It was recently published in Senses and Society. Check it out, please.

Recent exhibitions of interaction design have sought, and often struggled, to capture within the space of a traditional gallery the multisensorial, often performative nature of the user experience and the richness of the contexts within which that experience takes place. Similarly, many architecture exhibitions have attempted to reinvent the place of architecture in the modern museum – to portray architecture as a multimodal, multisensory shaper of the material landscape that impacts people’s everyday lives. Yet, again, the “white cube” complicates curators’ and exhibition designers’ efforts to go beyond traditional materials – blueprints, renderings, models, and photographs – to convey the dimensionality and material richness of built space. In this essay we’ll examine how interaction design and architecture, both experiential fields, present unique challenges to the exhibition designer. We’ll also consider how these fields, by virtue of the distinctive qualities of their designed objects, offer unique opportunities for us to rethink the relationships between the contexts and contents of exhibition. We conclude with specific recommendations for ascertaining the limitations and affordances of – and critically negotiating between – the exhibition space, the exhibition’s publics, and exhibition modes and media.

dotdotdot's Piccolo Museo del Diario in Venice, via CubeMe
dotdotdot’s Piccolo Museo del Diario in Venice, via CubeMe